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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mr & Mrs O from Dorset

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

2

Countries visited

3

Lodges stayed in

12

Excursions taken

0

Botswana & Vic Falls - A Wonderful Trip

Botswana and 1 other country between 25 May 2012 and 7 Jun 2012

Trip rating: Excellent
"Our trip to Botswana and the Victoria Falls has been fantastic. We have looked to travel to Botswana for a long time - and we were not disappointed. The standard of the camps was very good; the wildlife was fabulous; and the Falls are stunning in full flood.

We (like everyone) have our favourite camps, and the places that we would love to go back to one day - and the help and advice that we received from Megan and Nick at Expert Africa has been excellent.

To anyone who is thinking about whether or not to go to Botswana, we would highly recommend it. This was our 11th Wildlife Watching holiday (our 7th trip into Africa), and we have had wildlife encounters here that we have not experienced anywhere else, and at very close quarters.

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

It might be worth adding in a suggested tip allowance for the Trackers in Botswana. We had a tracker on every Game Drive in addition to our Driver/Guide - and they are not included in the general staff tips.

It would perhaps be helpful to include a suggestion within the notes that travellers make sure they pack their bags prior to going out for the morning game drive on the day they are departing the camp, as flight times change - often without much warning!

In Zimbabwe, the additional taxes are currently all included in the International Ticket Price, so we did not need to pay anything extra when we departed."

Arranged By Megan Green


Lebala Camp

Lebala Camp

"Lebala Luxury"

3 nights Arrived 26 May 2012
"Accommodation - This was our first camp in the Delta (the others being Nxabega, Kwara and Sandibe) and we stayed here for 3 nights. Lebala is a lovely, luxurious camp - the individual tents are beautifully appointed and furnished - and Charles and the team make you feel very welcome and relaxed.

The friendly, all inclusive, approach is particularly evident at mealtimes - early breakfast is taken around the camp fire in the morning prior to going out on a game drive; and Brunch and Dinner, are both served with guests sat around a single long table. This gives you the chance to chat with different people and share experiences - which is very nice, especially if you are travelling on your own. But don't worry - nothing is forced on you, and there is plenty of opportunity for peaceful solitude and relaxing.

Wildlife - We were incredibly fortunate to see the Wild Dogs on our first 3 Game Drives in the Reserve. Currently there are 2 packs in the area - one pack of 11, led by an Alpha Female with a broken front leg; and one pack of 18. We saw both packs, and spent time with them as they relaxed in the sunshine - and also as one pack headed off one evening looking for food, and a place to settle for the night (this was an exciting drive in the Jeep, across rough terrain, as we tried to keep up with the pack).

As well as the usual array of Elephant, Giraffe, Hippo, Warthog, and various different Antelope species (including Red Lechwe and Tsessebe) we were fortunate to see a large group of elephant (probably 75 to 100 animals) crossing the river just in front of the Camp, after Brunch one day. We also saw a Honey Badger out foraging one morning which was also a treat - as these animals are less common, and consequently difficult to see.

The wildlife sightings are often much closer than in other parts of Africa, as the Drivers/Guides and Trackers take you off road. Note - we had both a Driver and a Tracker on every Game Drive, so you need to consider that when estimating the amount of cash required for tips."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp

Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp

"Nxabega - the best food in Africa !"

2 nights Arrived 29 May 2012
"Accommodation - This was our second camp in the Delta (the others being Lebala, Kwara and Sandibe) and we stayed here for 2 nights. The tents are well appointed, with private verandahs to sit on and relax - and we also sat down by the pool area, which is beautiful.

Nxabega is set in a very picturesque area of the delta - coming from Lebala, the difference in the environment was quite striking as we drove through the concession to the camp, over some lovely rustic bridges!

Our first evening was spent taking a small motor boat cruise through the channels, and enjoying a glass of wine/G&T as the sun went down. Returning to dry land, we returned to the Jeep for a night drive, and had a fantastic surprise when we were taken for a Bush Dinner. I won't spoil the surprise for anyone else who happens to be staying at the right time (unfortunately, these dinners only happen once a week - and even that isn't guaranteed) - but if you are lucky enough to experience one, then it is a truely wonderful evening! I especially enjoyed the Astronomy Lessons that one of the Guides shared with us.

As I mentioned in the title, the food at Nxabega is fantastic - the team in the kitchen create the most wonderful dishes at every meal, and we would rate the food here as the best we've experienced in Africa (this is our 7th Safari trip in Africa, so we have experienced a few different lodges). Here, you dine at tables set up for your group - so if you are travelling alone, or as a couple, you will dine on your own table, rather than the communal tables approach taken by the Kwando group of lodges.

Wildlife - We were very fortunate to have two fantastic wildlife experiences here at Nxabega. On our first morning we headed out and stopped by the Hyena Den (there are currently 7 Hyena in the pack) to find the Alpha Female nursing 2 very small pups just at the mouth of the den. The pups had their eyes open, but were clearly far too young to be allowed out from the safety of the den - and to have the opportunity to glimpse them was a rare treat (you know you're seeing something unusual when your Guide is also taking photographs!)

Then that evening we found a Leopard Mother and Cub (approximately 5 months old) with an Impala kill. We watched them for a short while - but then returned the following morning, and found them still in the same place, and had the opportunity to watch as the mother finished eating, and then both were moving around and interacting. The cub is still quite shy, and for a while took refuge behind a log, before putting his front paws up and settling down to watch us!

Again, you will also find the usual array of Elephant, Giraffe, Hippo, Warthog, and various different Antelope species (including Red Lechwe and Tsessebe) - and we also found 2 different species of Frog whilst out on the Mokoro ride, and enjoyed watching the Kingfishers, Fish Eagles and other birds.

The wildlife sightings are often much closer than in other parts of Africa, as the Drivers/Guides and Trackers take you off road. Note - we had both a Driver and a Tracker on every Game Drive, so you need to consider that when estimating the amount of cash required for tips."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Kwara Camp

Kwara Camp

"Kwara - Land of the Lion!"

2 nights Arrived 31 May 2012
"Accommodation - This was our third camp in the Delta (the others being Lebala, Nxabega, and Sandibe) and we stayed here for 2 nights. The tents are well appointed, but a little tired (we knew this before we came here) - however that in no way detracted from our stay.

Here at Kwara, everyone dines together around a central table, which is a great way of meeting new people and sharing stories and experiences. Also, Kwara was the only place where we didn't have power sockets in the room to charge up batteries and devices - but there is an excellent system set up in the communal area where you can plug in and charge up.

Wildlife - Here in Kwara we were lucky enough to see the Cape Clawless Otter, fishing for it's breakfast on our first morning here. This was a lovely, unexpected sight - as Otters are normally very shy and will disappear long before you see them. We stayed watching the otter for a good 10 minutes - and it seemed completely unconcerned by our presence.

Kwara was also the home of the Lion for our particular trip. At this point (day 7) we'd yet to see Lions at all in Botswana, and our Guide and Tracker picked up tracks for a male Lion along the road, made the previous evening, which we then started following. Imagine our surprise when we came round the corner and almost ran over 2 female lionesses and 2 18 month old cubs who had approached from the other direction. We stayed with the group - following them as they set off to hunt - and eventually leaving them as they settled in the long grass near some Red Lechwe, to wait to hunt in the coolness of the evening.

That evening we set off, and this time we came across a lone female lioness who, clearly by the amount of blood around her mouth, had just made a kill. The Guide and Tracker recognised her as a female with 2 young cubs, and suggested we followed her. We were not disappointed - shortly she called to her cubs, and they came bounding out from their hiding place, and she led them back across the ground to the kill (a journey of approx 30 minutes). The two cubs were approximately 3 months old - and we stayed with the family, driving through dense bush, until we reached the kill (a male Kudu). We watched enthralled as the lioness fed, and the cubs chewed the meat a bit - and then messed around, jumping on the carcass, on their mother - and playing with the Kudu ear. It was a wonderful, intimate glimpse into lion family life - and one we were very privileged to watch and photograph. (Many thanks too to the kitchen staff at Kwara, who kept dinner for us long after the usual dinner time!)

Our trip to Kwara was rounded off the following morning with a lovely male Lion, with a Steenbuck kill just outside the lodge.

Again, you will also find the usual array of Elephant, Giraffe, Hippo, Warthog, and various different Antelope species (including Red Lechwe and Tsessebe) at Kwara - in between the Lions !!

The wildlife sightings are often much closer than in other parts of Africa, as the Drivers/Guides and Trackers take you off road. Note - we had both a Driver and a Tracker on every Game Drive, so you need to consider that when estimating the amount of cash required for tips."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Sandibe Safari Lodge

Sandibe Safari Lodge

"Sandibe - Land of the Leopard!"

3 nights Arrived 2 Jun 2012
"Accommodation - This was our fourth camp in the Delta (the others being Lebala, Nxabega, and Kwara) and we stayed here for 3 nights. The accommodation is well appointed, although we understand that it is under review, and may move in the near future. Like Nxabega, this camp is run by & Beyond, and therefore you are set up on individual dining tables for your meals, rather than as a communal group. Special dining can also be arranged - the couple sharing our Jeep were on their honeymoon, and had a candlelit dinner set up on their private veranda on the last night.

Like all the camps we stayed in, there are no fences and the wildlife roams freely throughout the area. We shared our time in Sandibe with the resident Baboons, Vervet Monkeys, Bush Buck Antelope and Elephants who came through to feed on the trees.

Wildlife - we were extremely lucky during our stay to see 4 different Leopard on different Game Drives. Our first drive took us to an area where a Mother and Sub-Adult Male cub were known to be resting following a kill they had made the previous day. The kill was large, and so both animals had stayed in the area in order to take advantage of the amount of meat available, and we were able to photograph them both as they rested after eating.

The following afternoon we found a female leopard resting in a tree - the kind of sighting that you see photographs of in Guide Books and Brochures, but never expect to see yourself! We were able to get very close to the tree, and take some fantastic photographs of a "chilled out" leopard. And on the last afternoon we came round a corner of a track, just as a young male leopard crossed on it's way to hunt. Again, we followed the leopard, and observed as it tried on 3 separate occasions to hunt Impala. Sadly, the wind gave it's direction away on each occasion, and in the end it settled for a Ground Squirrel snack, before we left it for the evening.

We were also fortunate to see some of the nocturnal wildlife at Sandibe - including the African Wild Cat, Civet, Genet and a Hyena nicknamed "Fluffy" who was at the camp.

After 7 nights spent in other camps, and 6 previous safari trips to Africa, we arrived with a certain level of expectation - and sadly, in a couple of areas, Sandibe failed to deliver, which is why we have only rated our overall experience as "good"."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Victoria Falls Hotel

Victoria Falls Hotel

"Quintessentially British!"

2 nights Arrived 5 Jun 2012
"The Victoria Falls Hotel transports you back to an era where opulence and grandeur were the minimum standards that would be expected by any discerning traveller. This is not a modern hotel with generic images on the wall, and contemporary fixtures and fittings. Instead, it is full of character and features (including the resident Warthog who help to keep the grass trimmed) - an incredibly striking building set in lovely grounds, and with an unparalleled location. It was clean and comfortable - the staff were lovely, and when service was a little slow on occasions, we simply relaxed and enjoyed the views.

We stayed 2 nights at the hotel, and it was the perfect place to access the Falls, just a short 10 minute walk away. We chose not to eat in the formal Dining Room, and instead ate at the more relaxed buffet area, and enjoyed the display of traditional African Dances that was staged in the evening. The food was good (it was a buffet menu for both Breakfast and Dinner, with plenty of options) - and there was a good selection of wines and cocktails as well."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Facilities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good

Kgalagadi and Cape Town - A Fantastic Trip!

South Africa between 14 Nov 2010 and 26 Nov 2010

Trip rating: Excellent
"We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to the Kgalagadi and Cape Town - and would happily, and enthusiastically, recommend it to others! The trip isn't for the faint hearted - or for anyone who is looking for a holiday on a plate - but if you love exploring, don't mind driving around (a lot!) and have been on safari before so you know that you won't see animals at every turn - then this trip is for you. The order you do things is important - so we would recommend Augrabies Falls, followed by the Kgalagadi, followed by Cape Town.

The wildlife we saw in the Kgalagadi was fabulous - and included the Black Maned Kalahari Lions (including a pair mating, as well as a couple of family groups and individuals), Cheetahs (including a pair lying in the shade right next to the road) and an amazing selection of antelopes, deer and other smaller mammals (including Bat Eared Foxes - and Meerkats!). As the tourist numbers in the the Kgalagadi are very low compared to other destinations in Africa, you have the chance to sit, watch and enjoy without interruption - which is a real privilege.

Cape Town is fantastic - and our only regret is not getting out to Robben Island (if you're going - make sure you pre-book ferry tickets to Robben Island in advance, as getting them when you're there is not easy).

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

We think you should recommend to travellers who plan to visit the Kgalagadi that they should consider upgrading to a 4*4 vehicle. Although the roads are very good in the dry, it's a different story in the wet. But also - and perhaps more importantly - a number of the roads are below the vegetation height of the scrub/bush either side - so unless you have a high vehicle, you struggle to see the wildlife (we bumped into several people who were disappointed by the lack of wildlife - and all of them were travelling in saloon cars. Either we were lucky - or the height really did make a difference!)"

Arranged By Claire Scott


Augrabies Falls Restcamp

Augrabies Falls Restcamp

"Augrabies Falls Restcamp review"

2 nights Arrived 15 Nov 2010
"Augrabies Falls was our first destination in South Africa - and even though we visited in the dry season (November - therefore the Falls are more of a trickle than a torrent) the scenery here in the park is stunning.

We stayed 2 nights which enabled us to head out for a full day in the park, and travel out to the far end of the reserve - which contains more wildlife, and is quite picturesque. This is a good introduction to the Kalahari area - and we would recommend visiting here first before heading into the Kgalagadi if your focus is wildlife - as the numbers are much smaller here, and the focus is very much on the antelope, deer and smaller mammals. Look out for the Tree-Climbing Rock Hyrax (Dassies)!

Rooms are comfortable and clean - and food at the Restaurant was good. Our only disappointment was that the night drives weren't running (there really didn't seem to be much enthusiasm amongst the staff to encourage people to sign up to activities) - so if you visit here, be prepared to DIY your own trips."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Facilities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Twee Rivieren Rest Camp

Twee Rivieren Rest Camp

"Twee Rivieren Rest Camp review"

1 night Arrived 17 Nov 2010
"The facilities at Twee Rivieren are good, everything was clean - but basic. The shop was adequate (we stocked up in Upington before heading to Twee Rivieren - which we would definitely recommend as the stock at the shop is limited) - and dinner at the Restaurant that night was very good.

We didn't spend much time in the camp, as we headed straight out to explore the Kgalagadi as soon as we arrived - but it is a useful stopping point (especially at the start or finish of a trip to the Kgalagadi). Top Tip - pack resealable freezer bags (large ones) to "double bag" frozen meat into to stop it leaking in the care as it defrosts!"
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Facilities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Nossob Rest Camp

Nossob Rest Camp

"Nossob Rest Camp review"

1 night Arrived 18 Nov 2010
"We spent one night at Nossob - and again the accommodation is fair, but basic. The location of this camp makes it an ideal stop as you travel around the park - and the Carnivores exhibition is really interesting.

The camp offered night drives - so we decided to join the trip that night. Unfortunately, the guide we had was fairly inexperienced, and did not have a pair of binoculars with him (which meant that a lot of the animal and bird identification was done by the passengers!). Then - when it got dark - instead of using the spotlight himself to sweep for animals - he handed 2 spotlights to passengers in the jeep and he sat in the front with the driver! Consequently, we were disappointed with this activity (and hence the low score below).

We chose to self cater at this camp - and the kitchen facilities were more than adequate for us to knock up a good dinner! Again, the shop is limited - but useful for picking up things like frozen meat, and treats such as sweets and wine! The waterhole is nicely situated - although there was limited activity when we were here."
Average
Location
Good
Service
Good
Facilities
Average
Rooms
Average
Activities
Poor
Grootkolk Wilderness Camp

Grootkolk Wilderness Camp

"Grootkolk Wilderness Camp review"

2 nights Arrived 19 Nov 2010
"A truly wonderful camp! If you only stay at one Wilderness Camp during your trip - make it this one! We weren't sure what to expect from the Wilderness Camps - but Grootkolk is very special. The accommodation is excellent - very well presented, with very good, basic, kitchen facilities (open air!).

The "Wilderness" element is immediately apparent, as there is nothing between you and the wildlife but a very low fence - and on our second night, when we came into camp, a young (3 or 4 years old perhaps) male lion was lying underneath the tree at the waterhole - directly in front of our tent! It makes cooking your dinner much more interesting, when in the company of a lion!!!

Grootkolk has a a lovely atmosphere - and we enjoyed coming back after an early morning drive for lunch and a siesta, sat on the veranda watching the Hartebeast, Kudu, Gemsbok, Springbok, Jackals and a multitude of birds come and go to the Waterhole.

The only criticism we would have is with the "floodlighting" on the waterhole - which is only on for an hour each night. So, if you can, take a very powerful torch/spotlight to extend the evening viewing. If we return to the Kgalagadi (and I feel sure that we will one day) I would like to stay longer at this camp."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Kalahari Tented Camp

Kalahari Tented Camp

"Kalahari Tented Camp review"

1 night Arrived 21 Nov 2010
"We stayed one night at the Kalahari Tented Camp, having spent 2 nights at Grootkolk - so it had a lot to live up to!

The camp is fine - and the facilities are excellent (including the separate kitchen tent) - but you feel more separated/detached from the wildlife than at Grootkolk. The waterhole was only properly visible through binoculars - so the opportunity for night time viewing was very restricted (we were helped - fortuitously - by the light of the full moon, otherwise we wouldn't have seen anything!).

Again - it is usefully located, at the far end of the park (and this is the area where you will see the Giraffe - we saw a group of 29 individuals, amazing!) - but somehow it hasn't got that "wow" factor that we were hoping for."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Average
Rooms
Good
Facilities
Good
Le Must River Residence

Le Must River Residence

"Le Must River Residence review"

1 night Arrived 22 Nov 2010
"After 7 nights of "basic" accommodation, checking into the Le Must River Residence was a complete contrast! The hotel/guest house is beautiful - with gorgeous gardens, and stylish, luxurious bedrooms.

The staff were very friendly and helpful - and we would definitely recommend this as a place to stay, especially if you are "in transit" on your way to the airport. We ate at the Le Must Restaurant in Upington (probably a 15 minute walk - although we decided to take the car) and the food was excellent (huge portions!).

Our only criticism was the fact that there is no tea/coffee making facilities in the room - instead Guests are told to "help themselves" from the kitchen (not great first thing in the morning, or last thing at night ...)."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Rooms
Good
Facilities
Good
Vineyard Hotel

Vineyard Hotel

"Vineyard Hotel and Spa review"

3 nights Arrived 23 Nov 2010
"Wow! This is a gorgeous hotel - which has all the benefits of being a modern, well equipped facility, supported by plenty of "old world charm"!

We spent 3 nights here, and were upgraded on arrival to the newly completed wing of the hotel. The food was excellent - both in the main hotel restaurant, and in the concession next door - and very reasonably priced, with an excellent selection of wines. The spa facilities too are lovely, so it's worth finding a couple of hours to pamper yourself whilst you're here!

Afternoon tea, sat outside in the garden, in the shade of Table Mountain, is a lovely memory to take away ........ In addition, it is very well located, and we had no problems at all heading out and exploring all across the Cape from the hotel."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent

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